Sirens wail in Ashkelon after rocket fired from Gaza

Attack comes day after volley of missiles fired at coastal city; Israeli official threatens Hamas with forceful military response

Illustrative photo of a missile (photo credit: Ministry of Defense/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a missile (photo credit: Ministry of Defense/Flash90)

A rocket fired from Gaza set off the air raid sirens in the Ashkelon region Thursday evening, a day after a volley of missiles aimed at the area pierced a shaky calm.

Security forces determined that the projectile fired Thursday night fell inside a Palestinian-controlled area in the northern part of the Strip.

The attack came hours after a senior Israeli official warned Hamas to curb rocket-firings from the coastal enclave or face Israeli retaliation, according to a Reuters report.

The unnamed official also said that the terror group is most likely not directly involved in the attacks, but will suffer the consequences should they fail to put a stop to the violence.

Overnight Wednesday, the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down five rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip in the direction of Ashkelon.

Three additional rockets landed in open areas outside the southern Israeli city. No injuries or damage were reported. Warning sirens wailed in Ashkelon shortly before 2 a.m. local time, alerting residents to quickly find shelter.

In response to the late-night barrage, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes on four sites in northern Gaza, including a hidden rocket launcher, a weapons storage site and a weapons manufacturing facility. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported direct hits on all targets.

Palestinian medical sources cited by Ynet said a woman and four children were injured as a result of the strikes.

Southern Israeli cities in proximity to Gaza were the targets of constant rocket fire for years before Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Rocket fire from the Strip was reduced dramatically following the 8-day Israeli military campaign, though sporadic fire has persisted.

On Monday, two rockets were fired from Gaza at the western Negev just as the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon was finishing nearby. The rockets fell in an open area near the border fence, in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council.

Security officials had expressed concerns that Gaza militants might target the Sharon funeral, and the military moved Iron Dome batteries to the area in order to protect the high-profile event.

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